I’ve written these bankroll blurbs from strange places before, but this one may take the cake. I’m writing this one from my girlfriend’s best friend’s baby shower in Orange County, California. My role is to keep the soon-to-be father company and eat as much as humanly possible at Gus’s Barbecue in South Pasadena after the event is over.
Funny story: On the way down, my girlfriend leaned over and said she thought the air in the plane smelled horrible. Without missing a beat, I quipped, “don’t worry, I’m pretty sure they can crack a window or something once we get going.”
Predictably, while I found this wildly entertaining, she did not. She really IS a saint.
SATURDAY’S RESULTS: Scratches reduced my investment to just a single $9 Pick Five play, which went up in smoke when my first-race single lost as the favorite.
SUNDAY’S PLAY: Anything close to the 2-1 morning line price on #2 KEY OF LIFE in the sixth hits me as an overlay, so I’ll focus on that one. I’ll play a $20 win ticket on her, $5 exactas using her over #4 KALING and #7 RARIFY, and $5 doubles starting with her that end with #3 LOVE TANK and #10 TREASURED GEM in the seventh.
TOTAL WAGERED: $40.
Best Bet: Key of Life, Race 6
Longshot: Drakon, Race 10
Faithful and True
#7 WASABI BOY: Has an experience edge over most of this group and may have bounced last time out after a strong debut. He ran into Forte in his unveiling, then didn’t make the lead at Monmouth. A repeat of his first-out performance would give him a big shot; #2 BAT FLIP: Debuts for Todd Pletcher and will take plenty of money solely based on that fact. This $350,000 son of Good Magic has a few five-furlong works on his slate, as well as a bullet gate drill over the Oklahoma track, and he could have the foundation to fire at first asking; #1 FAITHFUL AND TRUE: Draws the rail in his first start, which usually isn’t ideal. However, this $450,000 auction buy has been working very well at Keeneland and attracts Flavien Prat.
Once a Giant
#4 ONCE A GIANT: Takes a massive drop in class for August Dawn Farm, otherwise known as former Giants coach Bill Parcells. He hasn’t fired against starter allowance company, but anything close to his three-back score at Aqueduct would make him formidable against this bunch; #2 AMPERSAND: Ships up from Florida for trainer Phil Serpe, and on figures sure seems like the one to beat. However, that 0-for-14 mark over the last two years raises “pack animal” questions, ones that are fair to ask given his likely short price; #1 ICON: Ran reasonably well in his first start since November of 2020, when he was third against $20,000 claimers at Churchill. Robertino Diodoro excels with new acquisitions, and the recent four-furlong work here was very quick.
#2 POWER AGENDA: Was pretty highly-regarded a season ago, when he debuted with a win and ran fifth in the Grade 1 Hopeful. He takes a massive drop here, but does so for aggressive connections that aren’t afraid to lose horses to other barns in pursuit of victories at the Spa; #4 DOCTOR LOVE: Continues dropping down after running fourth for a $50,000 tag last month at Churchill Downs. This level should be more to his liking, and he’s one of only a few closers in a race that seems heavy on early zip; #3 TACO BEAN: Hasn’t won in a while but goes first off the claim for Gustavo Rodriguez, who’s won a few races already at this stand. Jose Lezcano climbs aboard, and there’s every chance he moves up for his new connections.
Call Me Harry
#6 PHANTOM SMOKE: Came back running off the bench when second in a fast race for the level downstate. He’s finished first or second in all but one of his career outings, and Irad Ortiz, Jr., riding back when he probably had options inspires confidence; #1 KING ANGELO: Broke his maiden at this route last summer and is another going second off the bench. He has the speed to establish position from his inside post, which is always handy in these turf sprints; #5 CALL ME HARRY: Has a sheet that looks miles better if you toss the races that aren’t turf sprints. Two of his three career wins have come here, and perhaps he’s ready to fire a big one at a price in the third start of his form cycle.
#3 MALATHAAT: Headlines a Grade 3 Shuvee field that’s light on numbers but heavy on quality. She just missed in the Grade 1 Ogden Phipps downstate, but has never fired a bad shot and could be more involved early given the addition of blinkers; #4 CLAIRIERE: Nipped my top pick last time out while benefiting from an ideal pace scenario. This race shouldn’t melt down like that one did, but she’s another ultra-consistent filly that’s found her best form, and maybe she doesn’t need a perfect setup to win; #1 EXOTIC WEST: Was a distant second in the Grade 3 DuPont behind a freakish performance, and his cracked the exacta in each of the last six races she’s finished. This barn popped at a price in a stakes race already this summer, and while a win may be a bit too much to ask form, she may inherit the lead by default and hang on for a piece of it.
Key of Life
#2 KEY OF LIFE: Lost all chance at the start of her debut, where she was third as a 2/5 favorite. She’s had two very strong drills since coming to upstate New York, and I’m more than willing to give her another chance at second asking; #7 RARIFY: Fits the mold of the “fast Wesley Ward 2-year-old” to a tee. She sold for $750,000 at Keeneland last year, and this daughter of Justify has been working well enough to hint that she could, well, justify that price tag; #4 KALING: Makes her first start for the tag team of Todd Pletcher and Flavien Prat, and does so with a steady string of works downstate. She earned a bullet for her July 8th drill and can’t be ignored.
#3 LOVE TANK: Stepped forward at second asking after a bad break in her debut. She was a close second after leading most of the way, and this barn excels with horses stretching out after a pair of sprint races. Add in Luis Saez and the 8-1 morning line, and I’m very intrigued; #10 TREASURED GEM: Needs to overcome a far outside post but certainly seems to be bred up and down for this route. This daughter of Medaglia d’Oro has a few very strong works on her sheet, and the Rosario/Clement duo merits respect, especially on the lawn; #5 IDEA GENERATION: Debuts for Chad Brown after being shipped over from the Tattersalls sale and will almost certainly go favored. However, the works are just okay, and while she’s bred to be any kind, it’s fair to ask questions of a horse that will take lots of money at the windows.
#3 KINETIC SKY: Was 5-1 in a Grade 3 not long ago and drops in for a tag in his 2022 debut. However, that’s not a panicky drop. These connections win with droppers like this very often, he’s working well, and a return to his 2021 form would make him a tough favorite to beat; #4 EMERALD EXPRESS: Was claimed by Joe Sharp following a second-place finish at this level at Churchill. That was his second solid performance in a row at this level, and he’s shown enough flexibility to give Tyler Gaffalione plenty of options; #7 SWIFTSURE: Probably needed his return off a long break, where he faded to fourth behind a pretty fast horse. He showed enough class to be favored in last year’s Grade 3 Lexington, and the outside draw is certainly a plus.
#1 OSIRIA: Led at every call to break her maiden and earned an 83 Beyer Speed Figure in doing so. She’s moved forward in every start, and while Belmont’s turf course can play kindly to early speed, she went pretty fast throughout in that event, and that day’s runner-up has since come back to win; #8 TUSCAN QUEEN: Likely needed her 2022 debut, which was her first race since December. She gets a positive rider switch to Jose Ortiz second off the bench, and she ran two solid races here a season ago; #6 CAIRONI: Merits a look underneath at a pretty big price. Her lone win came in her lone turf sprint, and perhaps she’d just been going too far ever since. It wouldn’t be shocking to see her clunk up for a share beneath Dylan Davis.
Smoke and Heat
#7 STREET VENDOR: Just missed against maiden special weight foes at Monmouth and runs for a tag here. Luis Saez rides for Pletcher, and any improvement second off the long layoff could make this one-time $500,000 purchase the one to beat in the Sunday nightcap; #3 DRAKON: Was third downstate in his first start on turf, and many things indicate he’ll be prominent early in a race otherwise light on early zip. Blinkers go on, as does top gate rider Kendrick Carmouche, and this barn hits at a high enough percentage to where this one hits me as a must-use; #1 SMOKE AND HEAT: Drops in for a tag after a trio of OK showings against straight maidens. On figures, he fits, but it’s worth noting the first two finishers from his last race have both come back to run poorly at short prices.